Yue Guang Bai (White Moonlight)

Sheng Puer Cake 200g 2020

Unique ‘dark’ withering process by slow natural air-drying develops an unusually smooth flavor similar to white tea. Very popular for its complex wildflower aromatics and deep sweet fruity flavors. Particularly light and smooth for a sheng puer, excellent for new puer drinkers and white tea drinkers.

$50.00

8 in stock

Related Years:

Tea Origin
Jinggu, Yunnan Province, China

Tea Bush
Yangta Dabaicha

Tea Master
Gong Liping

Harvest Time
March-April

Picking Standard
One bud, one leaf

White Moonlight’s unique ‘dark’ withering process by slow natural air-drying develops an unusually smooth flavor similar to white tea. The clean and crisp olive-oil colored brew possesses a rich aroma similar to wulong with complex wildflower aromatics. Its complex sweet and woodsy flavors are especially deep and lingering. Particularly light and smooth for a sheng puer, White Moonlight is an excellent choice for new puer drinkers as well as white tea enthusiasts.

Though normally harvested in late February or early March, the 2020 harvest of Yue Guang Bai was plucked almost a month later than usual in late March and early April. Persistent drought in Yunnan has made the tea buds grow more slowly and take longer to mature in the spring. However, these drought conditions have created a tea with a deeper and more intense flavor. The longer growing period means the leaves were exposed to more sunlight, and in response they produced more antioxidants.

White Moonlight’s leaves are known for their motley dark-and-light coloring, and this is the easiest way to pick the tea out. The tea leaves that are used to make Yue Guang Bai (White Moonlight) come from an altitude of approximately 1500 meters high in the mountains of Xiao Jinggu in Yunnan province. The leaves get plucked from 100-300 year old Yangta Dabaicha trees. Jinggu County is the largest forested county in Yunnan and it grows some of the richest maocha available. It is also known for producing sweet Chinese dates.

Origins and Cultivation in Jinggu

One of the old gnarled Yangta DaBaicha tea trees in Jinggu that White Moonlight is made from.
One of the old gnarled Yangta Dabaicha tea trees in Jinggu that White Moonlight is made from.

Traditionally, the authentic White Moonlight must come from the Xiao Jinggu region in Yunnan’s mountainous forests and be made with Jinggu’s Yangta Dabaicha trees. This particular local variety of tea tree has new growth that is covered in very fuzzy white hairs on the undersides of the leaves. This is easily seen in the young one-bud-one-leaf pluckings used in Yue Guang Bai. Made from tea trees rather than tea bushes, traditional White Moonlight can be infused more times while still providing good flavor and aroma.

The 800 year old “mother bush” which provided the seeds for these trees still stands today, surrounded by the younger plants. Meanwhile, the tea gardens where White Moonlight grows are surrounded by popular local crops, commonly mango, which have an impact on the aroma and flavor of the tea leaves. The plucking standard for this cake is one bud to one leaf.

Unique Slow Drying Process

Yue Guang Bai leaves are not withered in the typical hot noon sunlight like most teas. Rather, they are withered indoors or can even be withered outside at night (poetically speaking) “under the moonlight,” if there’s a nice dry night-time wind picking up over the cooling land. This unusual method of manufacture necessitates careful attention from the tea maker as it withers over approximately 24 hours. The leaves need to have air flow maintained over them to avoid molding. However, the careful process is well worth the effort. This “dark wither” is thought to give the tea a softer character without losing its depth.

As a result, White Moonlight is milder than most young sheng puer cakes and lacks their typical astringency. This makes it a great tea for new sheng puer drinkers.

You can learn more about White Moonlight’s processing and its similarity to white teas on our tea blog.

Making Puer Cakes

To compress puer into cakes, the tea is weighed with a scale traditional weight was 357 grams, but now many factories use 400 grams as a standard. (Yue Guang Bai is an unusual half-size 200g cake.) A piece of cotton fabric that will hold the tea leaves is placed inside a special 1 foot deep tin bucket that has holes on the bottom. Then the bucket it is filled nearly to the top with dried tea leaves.

They place a one inch square of paper that is stamped with the company’s logo on top of the cake, with a few leaves covering the sign. The stamp will become slightly embedded in the cake, a sign of authenticity showing that the tea has not been separated from its original label. One person sits in front of a steamer, steaming the leaves for 3-5 seconds and then removing the fabric and wet leaves from the bucket. The dry tea leaves are condensed from being very light and puffy down to a layer only 3 inches thick. The next person will quickly tie the fabric, making a knot at the end. They then compress the knot into the center of the cake under a compression machine. It takes a perfectly precise amount of pressure to compact the wet tea leaves tightly into a one inch thick cake. This process leaves the tell-tale indentation mark on the back of puer cakes.

Some producers still use the traditional method of compressing cakes, which requires two stone molds curved to match the shape of puer cakes. Someone stands on top of the filled mold and applies their body weight evenly to press the cake into shape. Factories that use this method will have one worker whose job it is to compress these cakes so that they are all compressed the same amount. They must be a specific weight so as to not over-compress the cakes.

The small amount of space between the leaves after compression will allow air to move through and naturally ferment the cake over years. After a few hours, the wet cakes are removed from the fabric and placed on wooden shelves to slowly dry for a few hours at a temperature of about 40 degrees celsius.

Once the tea is dry, the cakes are sent to a skilled tea worker who uses cotton paper to quickly wrap the cakes. They will fold the squares of cotton paper so there are exactly sixteen folds. Stacks of 7 cakes are packed in clean, dry bamboo shells. These shells are tied together with bamboo string to secure them for transportation. This traditional  packing method is still often used. The bamboo shell will protect the tea from rain while still allowing the tea to breathe. Bamboo is a very neutral scent, and will insulate the tea from picking up other scents.

No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.

Yue Guang Bai (White Moonlight) 2020 brewing guidelines

Weight per piece: 200 grams
How to store: Store in a dark, well ventilated area with less than 70% humidity. Less than 25°C (77°F). Store in the paper wrapper or fabric, not plastic. Keep away from odors and fragrances.

How to infuse: Any cup, pot, or gaiwan made of porcelain, glass, yixing clay, cast iron, or other material will work. Loosen and gently break off about 4-5 grams of tea from the cake. Brew in approx. 12 oz boiling water at 212°F (100°C) .

Steeping guidelines:  1st infusion – 2 minutes. 2nd infusion – 2 minutes. 3rd infusion – 3-5 minutes. 4th to 7th (or more) infusions – 5 minutes. Makes 7 or more infusions.